Carrigan teacher’s book to be published this spring
Carrigan teacher’s book to be published this spring
Posted on 03/12/2014
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WEST HAVEN, March 11, 2014 —Westies may soon be seeing a familiar name on Connecticut’s bookstore shelves.

Carrigan Intermediate School teacher Robin Cannon, who has taught in the district for nearly three decades, is publishing her first book this spring. Her novel, “Tilly Fig,” is being released by Maine-based book publisher Goose River Press.

The story is intended for readers who are 13 and older and follows the adventures of a young girl, her relationship with a close friend, and her quest to solve a murder mystery years later when she is an adult.

Cannon said aspects of the story focusing on the characters’ school and friends were influenced by her own experiences as a youngster growing up in West Haven and attending the former First Avenue School. She added that she was inspired to write during numerous trips she took to Europe.

She also credits her students with motivating her to improve and finish the book—she started writing the storyline in the early 1990s.

“Writing the book has always prompted me to encourage my students to be writers, and writing with my students has always encouraged me to look at my own work and see how I can make it better,” said Cannon, who has taught at Carrigan for the past few years and previously taught at Seth G. Haley Elementary School, Washington Elementary School and the former Clarence E. Thompson Elementary School.

She says she’s found it helpful to use her own writing experiences to relate to her students, whether youngsters are struggling with finding a story topic or embarking on the editing process. For example, she recommends that they write about what they know or topics they’re interested in to help their pieces be more realistic. Cannon also reminds them that they may catch different mistakes when editing on a piece of paper than when they check over their work on a computer screen.

“I tell them not to be discouraged and that no one’s writing is perfect and you can always make it better,” she added.

Cannon began writing her book in the 1990s using a pen and paper—a method many would view as old-fashioned, but something she views as a lost art. She took a break from penning her novel for a while, then picked it up again about three years ago, transcribing stacks and stacks of hand-written pages onto her computer.

Cannon saw publishing a book as a new challenge, and admits she wasn't fully aware of how difficult it can be to secure a publisher. After being turned down by multiple companies, she learned of Goose River Press and found the perfect fit for her manuscript.

The past few years have involved an extensive editing process with Goose River Press’ publisher, the development of a marketing campaign, the establishment of an electronic copy of the book to be sold online, and other odds and ends required in publishing a new book. Even Cannon’s family got involved. Two of her three children are featured in the book cover’s photograph.

She received her first hard copy of the book earlier this month and will edit the writing one last time.

“It was just the most thrilling thing ever--to hold the book and see my kids on the front cover,” she said.

Cannon said she’s currently working on a second book, which will serve as a prequel to “Tilly Fig.” And she’s even writing it by hand, for now.

Carrigan Principal Frank Paolino said he is proud of Cannon and that she joins the ranks of other Carrigan authors: Lynn Leite, an art teacher, and former student Kyla LoPresti, who started writing while at Carrigan and finished two books while she was a Bailey student.

“Robin has worked extremely hard putting together a novel that chronicles events that students can relate to and, at the same time, makes them intriguing,” Paolino said. “I have worked with Robin for over 20 years.  Her dedication to children is exemplified in all that she does in education and in her personal life.”

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